Crewe: Garratt, Turton, Ray, Nugent, Guthrie, Hollands (Wintle, 21), Jones, Cooke, Cooper (Ng, 89), Dagnall (Kiwomya, 75), Bowery
Unused Subs: Richards, Ainley, Bakayogo, Dale
Goals: Dagnall (11), Jones (Pen, 87)
Attendance: 2,896 (169)
Alex midfielder James Jones held his nerve from the penalty spot with three minutes remaining to seal a second successive home win for the Railwaymen.
Jones recently celebrated turning 21, but this was the perfect tonic to mark that occasion, as Crewe Alexandra had to produce a really gritty performance to defeat a tough Wycombe side 2-1.
Chris Dagnall scored his third goal in two games to give us an 11th minute lead before the ‘The Beast’ Adebayo Akinfenwa equalised with 15 minutes left on the clock.
With time running out, George Ray was impeded at the near post by Sido Jomabti and the referee pointed to the spot. Jones blasted his spot kick past Jamal Blackman to seal another three points for the spirited Alex.
Following the club’s emphatic 5-0 win over Grimsby Town on Saturday, David Artell understandably selected the same eleven. Jon Guthrie shook over a slight knock that he picked up against the Mariners to retain his place at left-back.
The Wycombe Wanderers side named our former defender Anthony Stewart in their starting line-up at Gresty Road.
Crewe Alexandra began on the front foot as the game instantly burst into life. The tempo was extremely high and it was more of a guts-and-thunder start than Saturday. The Crewe front two set the pace, working their socks off in trying to pressure Stewart and co at the back for Wycombe.
The Railwaymen conjured up the first half chance of the game in the opening minutes but Jordan Bowery didn’t connect with a low cross coming across the box following good approach play between Callum Cooke and Cooper. Soon after Bowery sent over a really dangerous cross that only needed a definite touch to ask a major question of the Wycombe goalkeeper Jamal Blackman.
Crewe’s early pressure told in the 11th minute. The tenacious Dagnall made his way into the Wycombe box and despite a touch, he kept his feet to get a powerful shot off. His shot on target was not well handled by Blackman and as the ball looped into the air, Blackman nor his defenders could scramble back in time to clear it off the line. The assistant referee had no hesitation in waving his flag to indicate that the ball had crossed and the goal was awarded.
More fine pressure from Cooke saw him find Jones inside the penalty area and the midfielder tried to lift his shot over Blackman rather than aim for precision or power. Blackman at six foot six made the save look straight forward.
Crewe restricted Wycombe to long range efforts and Garratt was well positioned to save from Sam Wood before Akinfenwa used his immense strength to head at the Crewe goalkeeper from a corner.
The Alex lost their captain Danny Hollands through injury after he seemed to extend his knee when making a firm but fair challenge on Akinfenwa. Hollands had to be replaced by young Ryan Wintle and the captain’s armband was passed to Ray. He embraced the responsibility with another outstanding performance.
The high energy encounter continued with Scott Kashkt firing well over the top of the crossbar and Alex Jakubiak had another decent effort deflected behind for a corner.
Turton was booked for catching Jakubiak before half time and the game continued to be littered with fouls and stoppages. It was a different type of game from Saturday, but Crewe stood up to the physicality of Ainsworth’s side and tried to open them up with our football.
Wintle found Cooke, who quickly got the ball out of his feet and his curling shot was deflected behind for a corner. Dagnall then had a near post header from Cooper that just lacked the accuracy to test the Wycombe goalkeeper.
Wycombe introduced Will De Havilland at the interval before Luke O’Nien was cautioned for a foul on Guthrie.
Crewe’s best early chance saw Cooke and then Cooper have shots blocked before Jones whistled one over the top of the bar as Crewe pressed for a second goal.
The Alex then had a let off after switching off at a throw-in with Joe Jacobson’s cross missing everyone but Wood couldn’t take full advantage at the far post.
More good play from the Crewe man-of-the-match Dagnall saw him find Cooke and his fierce shot had to push his away one handed. Dagnall also had a snap shot following an intelligent knock down by Bowery.
Cooper also had a free-kick that from 25 yards that took a deflection wide and the winger had to track Jombati back into our own six yard box to prevent him getting in behind us. It was that type of encounter. O’Nien forced Garratt into a smart save before we gave Akinfenwa his only real sniff at our goal on 75 minutes and the powerful striker created enough space for himself inside a crowded box to fire past a helpless Garratt. It was a classy finish and from then on, it seems to be a back against the wall job for the Alex but again we rose to the occasions with our back four outstanding apart from letting in Akinfenwa just the once.
Crewe were seeing the game out but a bit of late magic from Cooper saw him win a late corner. The resulting corner hit the near post and Ray was bundled over by Jombati. The visitors were far than impressed with the decision but after the delay, Jones stepped up to rifle home his 7th goal of the campaign. It was priceless.
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